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How to save my petrified Ideale 90?

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How to save my petrified Ideale 90?

Old 10-28-08, 02:23 PM
  #1  
Yogurt
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How to save my petrified Ideale 90?

A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate enough to rescue a Bob Jackson from a lifetime under a tarp. It came with an alloy-railed Ideale 90 saddle that is totally devoid of cracks or any other defect in the leather. The problem is that it has turned into a rock and the skirts on the side have started to point outwards. I've read about a thousand different opinions on restoring old saddles, but I suppose I'll open the conversation once again...

How do I make my saddle soft and restore its durability?!
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Old 10-28-08, 02:39 PM
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I posted a while back on making a NOS ideale saddle more comfortable. There are some good suggestions here: http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...=ideale+saddle
Since posting, the saddle, which is on my daily rider, has gone from a rock to a stiff board status. In otherwords, it's slowly getting there.

Frequent proofhide and riding helps - but since the sides of your saddle started to point upwards, maybe you'll need a different, less obvious approach is worthwhile. I've heard of old timers soaking saddles in motor oil. I am not sure if any has done this - but it may be interesting to hear about it.
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Old 10-28-08, 04:12 PM
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Motor oil = YIKES!

Neatsfoot oil is death on every leather product I've ever used it on - baseball gloves, leather slings, bicycle saddles,... It seems to soften by breaking down the leather. It gets soft sooner but also dies sooner. Neatsfoot oil is what is sold as baseball glove softener/conditioner.

I believe Proofhide is really lanolin.

Bees wax is, well, ...wax, ...from bees. It is usually softened/thinned by dissolving it in mineral spirits. It will tend to seal the surface. This can be good or it can be bad.

Saddle soap would be a way to clean and re-condition the leather if it were dirty. Normal cleaning with water strips some of the oils from the leather but saddle soap and offsets this by containing some lanolin to replace what would have been lost in cleaning.

You don't need saddle soap unless it's dirty - just use Proofhide. It would be excellent for the saddle, however, if the saddle is damaged from being dried out for decades, it may not be saveable.


P.S. - if I am incorrect about any of this, please let me know.

Last edited by Mike Mills; 10-28-08 at 06:18 PM.
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Old 10-28-08, 05:51 PM
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Sounds like a sadle I picked up in a junk box. I used mink oil and a hand held power buffer on it. Took about 4 coats but it came out nice. I went with mink oil because I had a jar laying around I figured on big loss if it didnt work. Held up nice for about a year then I sold it along with the bike.
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Old 10-28-08, 06:19 PM
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I think you should sell that Ideale saddle on eBay, where, given the amount Japanese bidders are paying for such things, you'll be able to buy a half dozen new Brooks saddles. And that's much more fitting for a Bob Jackson!

Neal
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Old 10-28-08, 09:05 PM
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at the risk of stirring up a huge hornet's nest of controversy: I read a posting by an individual who may be the one true expert on the subject of leather saddle repair and conservation...I won't repeat his name but his initials are T.C. Now he may have been pulling a fast one on the unsuspecting masses, or this may not be a technique for the novice, but he said he dunked a dried out saddle in a bucket of water to re-hydrate the leather (yeah, that would do it!). Shocked the pee out of me, but if it's true...he IS the expert. Then the trick is to dry it out very gradually and carefully and then treat it with the correct dressing that keeps the the moisture in (and keeps mold/mildew at bay). Take this FWIW
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Old 10-28-08, 09:37 PM
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Major league baseball players used to swear by dunking a new stiff leather baseball glove in a bathtub of water to help shape it. They may not do this anymore since nowadays gloves often are sold pre-conditioned from the factory.
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Old 10-29-08, 08:42 AM
  #8  
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My Ideale Saddle

My Ideale saddle can be seen on this website topic under the Sticky that has pictures of bicycles. I think I posted the pictures early this month (it's a black and silver Mondia Super-you won't have to look back through too many pages (page 96 of classic/vintage rides).

The reason I mention this is that saddle was put on the bike in 1987. I rode quite a bit back then, and hoped to break it in gradually. It never seemed to get softer. Over twenty years there were long periods where I rode the bike maybe once or twice a year, for a short distance-so the saddle remained pretty darn stiff for all this time.

This summer I began riding again, frequently. The saddle was hard, very hard, and I remember the one time I rode my brother's Paramount with a Brooks; it was soooo comfortable that it gave me pause about my choice of saddles.

This summer, I seriously considered getting a fat butt cushion seat, because I was almost to the point of not caring about style, appearance or racing function.

But before I did anything rash, I took another look at my rock hard saddle, loosened the bolt, and started working the leather gradually with my hands, very gently. I also rode the bike several times a week. But, almost every day I work that leather, pressing on it, squeezing, etc. The results have been remarkable. It is now pretty pliable and when I sit on it, there is almost a cushion sensation as the leather gives in a gradual and supportive contour.

IF YOU DECIDE TO HUMIDIFY YOUR SADDLE FIRST I would use a benign approach like taking it into the shower, above the spray and letting the steam and mist infuse some moisture content to the leather, nothing drastic, but maybe to give a little "give" to the leather as you start working it.

I have not put any kind of oil, leather balm, saddle soap or other substance on the leather.

This approach is just one suggestion and offered for your consideration.

Last edited by THEMONDIA; 10-30-08 at 03:30 PM.
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Old 10-29-08, 11:17 AM
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What do you have to lose? CC Filson has an oil finish restoring and it also waterproofs their canvas clothing. It might be worth a try to do that although it costs about what Proofide does. Heck that dunking it in a bucket of warm water and sloowwwwwly drying it out might help and then proofide the heck out of it. Wrap it in towels while its drying out it might just work.
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Old 10-29-08, 11:26 AM
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call a local horse saddle maker... like an old timer... they would probably have some great ideas.
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Old 10-29-08, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by nlerner View Post
I think you should sell that Ideale saddle on eBay, where, given the amount Japanese bidders are paying for such things, you'll be able to buy a half dozen new Brooks saddles. And that's much more fitting for a Bob Jackson!

Neal
+1 -> I didn't originally see your comment that the saddle was alloy railed. Unless you really love the saddle, I would apply some proofhide and sell it in a heartbeat. I am somewhat amazed at what folks are willing to pay for alloy railed ideale seats.
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Old 10-29-08, 12:27 PM
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I've had varied results reshaping saddles. Mostly good, one disaster. The disaster was dunking an old schwinn sprint leather saddle. I dunked it, walked away for a minute, came back and all of the leather disintegrated into many tiny pieces. nothing left but the steel rails. That was shortly after I did the same thing to a brooks professional with great results. Now my tact is to moisten the leather sparingly by hand or with a sponge, then I wrap it with an old innertube to get the desired shape.
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Old 10-29-08, 02:26 PM
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I am going to sit with my Ideale 90 and rock back and forth until I decide what to do! The safest thing would probably be to sell it and buy a new Brooks...but I am not known for practical decisions. I'll update everyone.
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Old 01-31-09, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Yogurt View Post
I am going to sit with my Ideale 90 and rock back and forth until I decide what to do! The safest thing would probably be to sell it and buy a new Brooks...but I am not known for practical decisions. I'll update everyone.
So how is it going?

I just got an old, rock-hard Ideale, also ( I think it's a 90) but mine has some white stuff on it, too.

Mold?
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Old 01-31-09, 09:38 AM
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I've rubbed'em down with hand cream with some success. Give it a good hand cream massage a couple times a week. It is also safe to get it on your butt through your pants. AVOID MOTOR OIL AT ALL COSTS!!! Motor oil, especially used motor oil, is carcinogenic. I remember a long long time ago being advised by an old roadie to use motor oil on an old Brooks Pro to soften it, and maybe people actually did that once, but it's a very very bad idea! Imagine all those carcinogens entering your body through a saddle rash! OMG!!!
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Old 01-31-09, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by unworthy1 View Post
at the risk of stirring up a huge hornet's nest of controversy: I read a posting by an individual who may be the one true expert on the subject of leather saddle repair and conservation...I won't repeat his name but his initials are T.C. Now he may have been pulling a fast one on the unsuspecting masses, or this may not be a technique for the novice, but he said he dunked a dried out saddle in a bucket of water to re-hydrate the leather (yeah, that would do it!). Shocked the pee out of me, but if it's true...he IS the expert. Then the trick is to dry it out very gradually and carefully and then treat it with the correct dressing that keeps the the moisture in (and keeps mold/mildew at bay). Take this FWIW
Actually, water does not hurt leather, but over drying destroys it. Different types of leather require different stuff to care for. You should never use oil on vegetable tanned leather, something like Proofhide or Snowseal works OK. On oil tanned leather you should use a light coating of neetsfoot oil. As far as I know saddles like the Brooks or the OP's Ideal are oak tanned (vegetable).

The way they used to salvage old horse saddles (oak tanned) was by repeated saddle soaping to slowly rewet the leather and replenish the natural oils. However that takes a lot of human effort which used to be cheap, but isn't any more. It could take a month of daily saddle soapings to get the leather back into shape. Work up a wet sudsy lather and rub in throughly, then hang the saddle up somewhere to dry very slowly, ideally it should not be 100% dry the next day, only about 85-90%, when you do it again.

Oil tanned leather like on baseball gloves can be soaked and then oiled just before they are dry. Much easier to care for.
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